2,000-year-old temple floor discovered at Malta’s Tas-Silġ excavations

The floor of a temple dating back to prehistoric times was uncovered in ongoing excavation works at Tas-Silġ, the Culture Ministry said.

2,000-year-old temple floor discovered at Malta's Tas-Silġ excavations
Credit: Heritage Malta

In a statement, it said the 2,000-year-old floor of the Temple of Ashtart was uncovered in a ‘farmhouse’ with various remains at the site.
The removal of the farmhouse floors have uncovered a series of floors and preparation layers, the ministry said.

2,000-year-old temple floor discovered at Malta's Tas-Silġ excavations
Credit: Heritage Malta

«The site at Tas-Silg contains the remains of over 4,000 years of structures, most of which were used for religious purposes,» Culture Minister Owen Bonnici said.
The Temple of Ashtart was made famous by Roman senator and orator Cicero when made reference to it in a prosecution speech against Caius Verres.

2,000-year-old temple floor discovered at Malta's Tas-Silġ excavations
Credit: Heritage Malta

Along the years, both the Missione Archeologica a Malta and the Department of Classics and Archaeology of the University of Malta have conducted extensive excavations at this site.
A ‘farmhouse’ located on the site is being restored and will be turned into a visitor centre equipped with digital interpretations.

These excavations are being carried out in collaboration with the Department of Classics and Archaeology of the University of Malta, which is utilising this dig to train its students in archaeological practices. Close collaboration is also held on this and other digs with the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.

This project is just the first step in a long-term plan that Heritage Malta is currently implementing for the site. This includes the finalising of a management plan, and a conservation plan.

Author: Denise Grech | Source: The Times of Malta [July 15, 2019]



Asiatic East Germanics

Around a third of the ancient individuals in my dataset associated with East Germanic-speaking cultures show obvious ancestry from Central and/or West Asia.
This shouldn’t be too surprising, considering, for instance, the well documented contacts between East Germanic tribes and the Avars, Huns and other nomadic groups that streamed into Europe from the Asian steppes during the Migration Period. It’s a topic that I’ve raised before at this blog (see here).
But the curious thing is that very little, if any, of this ancestry has percolated down to present-day Europeans.
The easiest way to show this is with a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) based on my Global25 data. The relevant PCA datasheet can be downloaded here. Basic details about the ancient samples in the analysis are available here.

In the first PCA some of the Northeastern European populations, particularly the Uralic speakers, appear to be attracted to the Hunnic cluster. However, this is mostly an artifact of pre-Migration Period east to west population expansions in the far north of Europe, probably including those of the Proto-Uralians (see here).
So how is it that, despite ruling over vast areas of Europe for hundreds of years, the East Germanics appear not to have contributed significantly to the present-day European gene pool? My theory is that, much like the Avars and Huns, they were militarily and demographically overwhelmed by the ascending groups around them, such as the Slavs, and they simply went extinct.
To wrap things up, here are a few very quick qpAdm mixture models, including one for the new samples from the Chernyakhiv culture. Note the significant slice of Hun-related admixture in these likely early Goths. Is it real? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

DEU_MA 0.863±0.038
Hun_Tian_Shan 0.137±0.038
chisq 12.525
tail prob 0.325466
Full output
Baltic_EST_IA 0.126±0.078
DEU_MA 0.849±0.073
Hun_Tian_Shan 0.025±0.020
chisq 8.338
tail prob 0.595877
Full output
Baltic_EST_IA 0.121±0.064
DEU_MA 0.857±0.060
Hun_Tian_Shan 0.022±0.017
chisq 11.458
tail prob 0.322956
Full output
Baltic_EST_IA 0.597±0.069
DEU_MA 0.373±0.064
Hun_Tian_Shan 0.030±0.017
chisq 15.739
tail prob 0.107361
Full output

See also…
New PCA featuring Botai horse tamers, Hun and Saka warriors, and many more…
More on the association between Uralic expansions and Y-haplogroup N
Uralic-specific genome-wide ancestry did make a signifcant impact in the East Baltic